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The 13 Oldest Restaurants in California to Try Next

The 13 Oldest Restaurants in California to Try Next

Dine at the same spots the older generations frequented and visit the oldest restaurants in California. Team


7 min read

June 12, 2023

You’ll never struggle to find a good place to eat in the Golden State. Thanks to its farm-to-fork tradition, California is famous for having a rich range of restaurants that offer fresh and healthy gourmet meals. Indeed, what better way to get to know this long-standing tradition than by visiting the oldest restaurants in California?

In a bustling place like Los Angeles or San Francisco, many great restaurants come and go, and it can be hard to stand out and make a business last. These thirteen high-end restaurants have distinguished themselves by standing the test of time all while maintaining their storied quality and authenticity. Want to have a meal that’s delectable, classy, and memorable? Check out these top restaurants in the Golden State and get acquainted with the best in household names the California dining scene has to offer. 

California’s Top Oldest Restaurants 

Duarte’s Tavern 

Location: 202 Stage Road, Pescadero, CA 94060

Year Established: 1894

Cuisine: American Diner 

Hours: Open 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, open for breakfast 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Sundays, and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Closed Tuesdays. 

Located in the coastal town of Pescadero, CA is a homely little restaurant that serves some great Americana fare with a gourmet twist. This place has a fabulous rustic ambiance thanks to it’s beautiful pinewood paneling and it’s welcoming staff. The menu changes every day here so you’re guaranteed to always have a fresh new take on an American classic each time you pop in for a bite to eat and a good time with friends. We recommend paying a visit to Duarte’s during its Sunday breakfast hours for a heavenly morning treat you won’t soon forget.    

Union Hotel Occidental

Location: 3777 Main Street, Occidental, CA 95465

Year Established: 1879

Cuisine: Italian

This luxury hotel and family-style restaurant has long been a true NorCal household name thanks to it’s marvelous Italian hospitality that will make any weary traveler feel right at home. Enjoy some of the best pizza with fresh mozzarella cheese this end of the Golden State, or mix things up and order some glorious minestrone and a salad with gorgonzola cheese and organic baby spinach. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Union Hotel’s beautifully appointed cafe which has plenty of sweet pastries on offer. 

Stop by Tadich Grill for great expertly prepared seafood and steaks grilled to perfection.

Oldest Restaurants In San Francisco 

Sam’s Grill and Seafood

Location: 374 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94104

Year Established: 1867

Cuisine: Seafood 

Hours: Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, closed on weekends. 

Ever first since opening its doors back in the boom days of San Francisco’s gold rush, Sam’s Grill and Seafood has strived to embody the best of tradition and good hospitality. In addition to maintaining a wonderfully authentic ambiance thanks to its brass bar, hardwood floors, and well-dressed waiters this restaurant also has a premier menu to match. Indulge in decadent American classics including clams Elizabeth, lobster thermador, and Ghirardelli chocolate sundaes for dessert. 

Tadich Grill 

Location: 240 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

Year Established: 1849

Cuisine: Seafood

Hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday. 

Older than the state itself (yes, really), Tadich Grill is believed to be the oldest restaurant in California and the third oldest in the country. Located in the heart of San Francisco’s beautiful Financial District, the Tadich Grill is a long-established household name in the City by the Bay. Don’t miss out on trying the best authentic mesquite broiled salmon when you visit. If seafood is not your thing, you’re sure to find its gorgeous filet ribeye with a side of grilled vegetables and shoestring potato fries to be positively divine. 

For the best in everything clams, you can’t go wrong with the Old Clam House.

The Old Clam House 

Location: 299 Bayshore Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94124

Year Established: 1861

Cuisine: Seafood 

Hours: Open every day, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Another one of the oldest seafood restaurants in San Francisco, The Old Clam House is an S.F. classic. The restaurant serves iconic California food such as clams, chowder, and the signature cioppino. What makes The Old Clam House so famous is not just how long they’ve been around but also its commitment to quality in everything that they serve. That’s why this historic restaurant only sources its ingredients from local farmer’s markets and fisheries all year round.

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Fior D’Italia 

Location: San Remo Hotel, 2237 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94133

Year Established: 1886

Cuisine: Italian 

Hours: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. 

With a name that means “Flower of Italy”, this restaurant is not wanting for character and sophistication. For over 130 years, the Fior has been the Northern Italian establishment of choice for the upper crust of SanFran, and a glance at their menu is enough to know why. With definitive Northern Italian offerings such as Gnocchi Alla Piemontese (potato dumplings with creamy tomato sauce), and succulent porterhouse steaks grilled to your exacting taste, it’s safe to say Fior D’Italia is a place that caters to the refined palette.   

or over 130 years Fior D’Italia has prided itself in producing some of the best pizza and pasta San Fran has to offer.


Location: 240 Front Street, San Francisco, Ca 94111

Year Established: 1893

Cuisine: German 

Hours: Open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, closed on weekends. 

If you like hardy eats, great music, and warm hospitality you’ll love this German restaurant in San Francisco. In addition to being the best place to celebrate Oktoberfest in all of SanFran Schoeder’s menu includes all the German classics including traditional bratwurst served with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut, and of course plenty of schnitzel. For dessert, we highly recommend trying Appleflap, an iconic Dutch treat that is a type of apple pastry served with vanilla ice cream. 

Southern California’s Oldest Restaurants 

The iconic Gaslamp district houses Tivoli Bar and Grill, a longtime institution in San Diego.

Tivoli Bar and Grill

Location: 505 Sixth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101

Year Established: 1885

Cuisine: Bar food and grill

Hours: 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday to Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday to Saturday. 

Located in the Gaslamp, a quaint district of Victorian-Era brick buildings,  the Tivoli Bar and Grill has a down-to-earth atmosphere that makes it a truly welcoming place for locals and tourists alike. If you start feeling peckish there are plenty of titillating BBQ specials to choose from including fresh chicken rolled tacos, cheesy quesadillas, and a pretty filling combo plate. Plus, frequenting this joint means you get to eat in the same place that was a regular haunt of Wild West legend Wyatt Earp, and that’s pretty cool all on its own.      

Step Back in time with a visit to Cold Spring Tavern in the idyllic woodlands outside Santa Barbara.

Cold Spring Tavern 

Location: 5995 Stagecoach Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Year Established: 1868

Cuisine: American fare and wild game

Hours: Open 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Open for dinner 5 p.m to 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

While all of the restaurants on this list are unique in their special way, Cold Spring Tavern still takes the cake when it comes to standing out. It’s one of the few remaining stagecoach saloons in California, and while the stagecoach is long gone, you can still ride on up to Cold Spring Tavern on a steel horse for a great BBQ meal and a serene rest in the beauty of nature. If you’re feeling adventurous, try Cold Spring Tavern’s wild game black bean chili with venison, rabbit, buffalo, cheese, and a dollop of sour cream. 

The Oldest Restaurants In Los Angeles 

Grab a robust and delicious sandwich in Los Angeles at Philipe The Original

Philippe The Original 

Location: 1001 North Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Year Established: 1908

Cuisine: Breakfast and sandwiches

Hours: Open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day 

Philippe The Original claims to be the restaurant that invented the French dip sandwich. The story goes that in 1918, owner Mathie Phillipe was making a sandwich for a policeman but dropped it into a roasting pan filled with hot juices. The policeman took the sandwich anyway and came back the next day with friends asking for more. The rest is history, and Philippe’s remains the top sandwich spot for Angelinos even today.  

The Original Saugus Cafe 

Location: 25861 Railroad Avenue, Santa Clarita, CA 91355

Year Established: 1886

Cuisine: American 

Hours: open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day

The Original Saugus Cafe is believed to be the first-ever restaurant opened in Los Angeles County. Legend says President Theodore Roosevelt stopped by the cafe and enjoyed a splendid New York steak. As one of the oldest restaurants in California, the Saugus Cafe has also served the likes of Clark Gable, John Wayne, and Charlie Chaplin. Go to Saugus for great American breakfasts and flavorful Tex-Mex classics. 

El Cholo The Original

Location: 1121 South Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90006

Year Established: 1923

Cuisine: Mexican

Hours: open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day

Believed to be the oldest Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, El Cholo is a perfect example of the most popular ethnic cuisine in California. Since opening its doors in 1923, the restaurant has operated as a family-owned business. El Cholo also claims to be the first restaurant to serve nachos in L.A.—the iconic food made its appearance in the City of Angels in 1959. Try El Cholo’s Green Corn Tamales, a seasonal item that’s been on the menu since 1923 and includes corn off the cob, cheddar cheese, beans, and rice. 

Try something new at La Luz Del Dia Restaurant, L.A.’s most famous Michoacan Mexican dining establishment.

La Luz Del Dia Restaurant 

Location: W, 1 Olvera St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Year Established: 1959

Cusine: Michoacan Mexican

La Luz Del Dia Restaurant is another one of the oldest restaurants in California. The storied eatery specializes in Michoacan Mexican cuisine from the western Mexican state of the same name. This beautiful tile-covered restaurant is still run by the same family that established it and continues to serve authentic Michoacan fare including yummy combo plates with rice and beans, carnitas, guacamole, chile Relleno, and much more.

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